O’s in a tough spot with Gibbons

September 10, 2007 | Drew Forrester

If they ask nicely, maybe the Orioles could contact the Ravens and ask for that page in the team handbook that deals with a player who has run afoul of the law. 

At least once a year, it seems, the Ravens have to use the “legal process” quote, as in:  “We are not in a position to comment on the situation involving (insert player’s name here).  There’s a legal process that will now play out and until the case is heard and the player gets his day in court, we don’t have any official position on the matter.”

The Orioles are probably going to have to use that quote at some point in the near future as it relates to Jay Gibbons.  If you take Sunday’s SI.com article as gospel, Gibbons had illegal steroids – including HGH – shipped to his home by an underground pharmacy in Orlando, Florida that has since become the center of a federal investigation.  Gibbons joins Rick Ankiel and Troy Glaus as major leaguers who saw their name in print within the last 5 days.  At least Glaus was man enough to stand-up – ashen faced and all – and offer SOMETHING to the media who questioned him.  He didn’t say much, offering a shaky no comment while stammering about the playoff race – has he looked at the standings? – and helping his team.  Ankiel didn’t say much of anything and Gibbons, sidelined for the rest of the year and away from the club, conveniently left his cell phone at “Needles R Us” and didn’t return calls last night. 

Sadly, though, the Orioles are going to have protect Gibbons over the off-season when hot-stove talk centers on what to do with him prior to the ’08 campaign.

The Orioles have to keep Gibbons around.

What a country, huh? 

Yep, that’s what you get when the player’s association actually RUNS the league and the owners fetch coffee and tea for the players on a daily basis.  You’d think it would be the other way around.  The players, ever thankful for their $5.4 million a year, should be getting the owners a gin and tonic once a day, but when you give the player’s union all the power, they take it and run with it.

People calling in to The Comcast Morning Show on Monday want Gibbons cut in the off-season.  “Void his contract,” they say.  “Just cut the guy…get him out of here,” others bellow.

Easier said than done.  First, and foremost, Gibbons NEVER tested positive for steroids.  Anyone with half a brain knows Gibbons has used steroids.  He had them shipped to his house.  Oh, somewhere tomorrow, a Gibbons apologist will say, “Just because he had them shipped to his house doesn’t mean he used them.”  Hell, Gibbons himself might even throw that one out there and see if anyone will bite on it. 

To that, I merely say:  “How many of you get Playboy mailed to your house every month and DON’T read it (or at least look at the pictures)?  Exactly.  None of you.

How many of YOU out there have come home one afternoon, turned on the TV, settled into your favorite chair and then had the UPS guy show up at your door with a box of steroids that you DIDN’T order?  E-mail me directly if that’s ever happened to you.  I’d like to hear more about it.

So, the Orioles can’t void Jay Gibbons’ $5 million a year deal.  They’d like to, but they can’t.  There’s no provision in the deal that calls for a team to have authority to void a player’s contract if he gets away with something on a technicality.  If that were the case, the O’s could void Bedard’s deal on the basis of his surly, abrasive nature with the media.  Or they’d write a big fat “X” through Ramon Hernandez’s contract for failing to hustle down to first base in about 20 at-bats in August before Trembley finally had a Come To Jesus meeting with him and laid down the law.

And they can’t cut Gibbons, either.  Why?  Well, for starters, they’d have to pay him if they cut him and they’re not going to hand over $10 million or so to a guy for NOT playing.  They have to swallow hard every other Friday when they wire a portion of that $8 million they’re paying Aubrey Huff this year and he IS playing.  They’re not paying anyone to sit, for sure.

But there’s another reason why they can’t and WON’T cut Gibbons.  It sets a precedent.  If they suddenly decide to man-up and give Gibbons the heave-ho because of the “black eye” he’s given their organization, what will they do if – God forbid – the other two names that Grimsley muttered – Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada – are suddenly next week’s SI.com revelation? 

Roberts is the face of the franchise, period.  He’s their golden boy.  And if Grimsley was right and BRob and/or Miggy both dabbled in the juice – even if it did happen before the testing period began in ’04 – how do the Orioles promote either of those two players in 2008 and beyond?  If they cut Gibbons now, they’d have to do the same thing with anyone else in the club who someday gets solidly linked to this federal investigation.  They can’t cut Jay.  Just in case…

It’s almost over, now, this train wreck of a 2007 season.  With 61 wins, the Birds look like they’ll likely win 66 or so games and there’s a fairly good chance they’ll finish in dead last in the American League East.  Sadly, they’ve completely squandered what was a fairly promising first 110 games by completely throwing in the towel and sputtering through what might become a 10-40 mark to finish the season.  Some dummies like me even bought into it all in July and early August, talking about the O’s adding a couple of quality players and a #2 pitcher in the off-season and contending for a playoff spot in ’08.  Lord, what on earth was I thinking?  

Looking for some positives in this Orioles season is like “trying to find a needle in a haystack”.  Might be better if I came up with something else, huh?